A waterfront park in Auke Bay is one step closer to reality under a funding proposal outlined at a Juneau Assembly work session Monday.
Auke Bay neighbors last summer asked the city to purchase a 0.3-acre piece of land between DeHart's Auke Bay Store and Fisherman's Bend for a waterfront park. Owner Richard Harris was working on plans to open a lodge and restaurant on site, but said he would be willing to sell to the city.
Under the funding proposal, the city would purchase the land with $290,000 from the city's open space waterfront acquisition fund, to be replaced with proceeds from the cruise ship passenger fee, according to Assembly member Frankie Pillifant. The $500,000 waterfront fund was set up two years ago with passenger fees. Community fund-raising would help with the purchase, Pillifant added.
"We wanted to keep the community challenged and motivated in their offer to assist with the purchase," she said.
Pillifant said the goal was to acquire the property without using the city's lands fund, which is needed for improvements to a proposed Lena Point subdivision. A subcommittee made up of neighbors, city staff and Assembly members came up with the funding proposal.
Assembly member Jeannie Johnson said community groups have indicated they will help with the project.
"It will afford folks the opportunity to access the water without going through private property," she said. "I believe it's the last piece of undeveloped land in the cove."
The funding plan next goes to the full Assembly for consideration, Johnson said.
Neighbor Nancy Lehnhart said she's pleased the city is finding a way to acquire the property. The University of Alaska Southeast, Auke Bay Elementary School and other residents have volunteered to help, she said.
"There's just a great amount of enthusiasm and support," she said. "There are just going to be a lot of people involved in making it a really great place."
Joanna Markell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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